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âBusiness as usual lockdowns wonât workâ
Police and barangay officers man the entry and exit points of Barangay 297 in Manila at Monday midnight, March 22, 2021 after it was placed under a four-day lockdown along with 12 other barangays.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file

‘Business as usual lockdowns won’t work’

Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday called for a more hands-on approach in the government’s COVID-19 response as cases remain high despite the prolonged lockdown.

The Vice President, in quarantine after a close-in security tested positive for COVID-19, maintained the government should ramp up testing and contact tracing to significantly reduce the transmission of the virus.

“If our lockdown is like business as usual, things will remain the same,” Robredo said in her weekly program over dzXL.

She said increasing the testing capacity dramatically would help in preventing the spread of the virus as COVID-positive individuals would be immediately isolated.

She said daily tests during the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine – the strictest quarantine classification – from March 29 to April 4 was only between 30,000 and 50,000.

“We’ve just reached 60,000 in the past few days. It’s still not enough because our positivity rate remains high,” Robredo said.

She also hit Malacañang’s claim that COVID-19 tests are free.

“When they said that testing is accessible to everyone and also free, that is not accurate,” she said.

The Office of the Vice President, together with its partners from the private sector, recently launched the Swab Cab, which offers free COVID-19 antigen tests, in barangays with high cases of COVID-19.

She said the government could have done more if it admitted its lapses in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“Maybe the reason why we are in the same situation for so long, and our response is slow, is because we don’t accept our lapses,” Robredo said.

Meanwhile, the Vice President called on authorities to intensify the vaccination campaign to boost public confidence in the vaccine.

She said the government has yet to fully administer the over two million COVID-19 jabs it received in the past two months.

“People I know who were already vaccinated told me that it’s not hard to get an appointment because there are a lot of available (vaccines). This is worrisome because if there are a lot of available vaccines despite the fact that we only have two million plus that means many are still not inclined to get vaccinated,” she said.

Robredo said the government must look for people who need the vaccines most instead of waiting for them to register, noting that most local government units are doing the registration online.

“If there are many who are still not vaccinated, there’s a need to proactively look for them,” she said.

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